Friday, 12 June 2015

Teachers' unions just don't understand.

For many parents and students the news that four school boards will not be releasing report cards; including the two largest boards in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and the Peel District School Board (PDSB), this is a  final straw. Please do not misunderstand. No one doubts the difficulty of teaching, but teachers' unions have been directing their members in an extreme direction since the 1990s. This incident with report cards will only succeed in angering parents and students.

As reported in today's Toronto Sun, "the salary range for teachers runs from $42,283 for a rookie, to $94,707 after 10 years for a teacher who does the required upgrading. Those who chose not to move up the grid make a top salary of $76,021. They also get hefty benefits and a lucrative pension that’s funded 50% by taxpayers. For that kind of dough, they should fill out report cards."

While the province struggles with a $10 billion deficit and debt nearing $300 billion teachers' unions demand more. Frankly, the Wynne government is the most teacher friendly government in Ontario history. Even the NDP government of Bob Rae was not as willing to bend to the will of the Sam Hammonds in Ontario to the degree that Premier Wynne has. The least teachers can do is let us see our children's grades.

As a parent to a special needs child I depend on those grades to gain insight into my daughter's educational development. I cannot do this as long as her grade are kept under lock and key.

So the question becomes, 'what can parents do about it?'

Simply put: nothing.

We are dependent on our trustees and MPPs to do what is right here. Unfortunately, to date, they are wrestling with a group of unions unwilling negotiate in good faith.

Friday, 5 June 2015

I’d like to talk to you all about the future of the Toronto District School Board...

I’d like to talk to you all about the future of the Toronto District School Board.

As many of you may know, I’m the proud father of a beautiful little girl on the autism spectrum. And, as much as it shocks me to say so, she will soon be turning seven.

My daughter is currently enrolled in the first grade under the TDSB's autism intensive support program (ISP). She is already excited for the second grade.

As parents to a child with special needs, my wife and I are asking ourselves some important questions.
Where should our daughter be going to school?

Where should our family put down their roots?

These are questions shared by families across Toronto. Like them, we want what’s best for our daughters.

To me, there’s no tougher question than asking why they should stay in Toronto.

When I ask myself whether my daughters should stay in Toronto, I find myself asking a much more troubling question: can they stay? Is it in their best interest?

I find myself asking, does our school board afford them the opportunities they need and deserve? Does our city’s public education system afford all Torontonians the opportunities they need and deserve?

If the TDSB continues along its current path, I’m very sad to say the answer isn’t as certain as I’d like.

With the coming federal election trustees should be calling on TDSB Chair Shaun Chen to step down in his role as chair and perhaps even trustee. Mr. Chen has already been confirmed as the federal Liberal candidate in Scarborough's North. This makes him an open target. This makes the TDSB an even easier target. More problematic, however, is that Mr. Chen has been dividing his time as Chair and candidate for months now. It is time for him to step aside, and his fellow trustees need to push him to do this.

With that in mind there are a handful of trustees that could replace him. Deputy Chair Sheila Cary-Meagher is the obvious choice. But with Cary-Meagher you carry the weight of a former ally of disgraced former Chair Chris Bolton. New blood is necessary. So who does this leave? Logically eliminating the 11 newest trustees, Chen, and Cary-Meagher we are left with 9 options. They are as follows;

Chris Glover, Ward 2
Pamela Gough, Ward 3
Howard Kaplan, Ward 5
Chris Tonks, Ward 6
Shelly Laskin, Ward 11
Gerri Gershon, Ward 13
Sheila Ward, Ward 14
David Smith, Ward 19
Jerry Chadwick, Ward 22

A handful are easily removed from this list. While I have developed a reasonable working relationship with Trustee Kaplan, it would be hypocritical of me to endorse a man whom I didn't see fit to serve as trustee only months ago. Trustee Tonks? He had an opportunity during the last Chair elections. He passed. Trustee Ward? As a former Chair, her time is passed. Trustee Smith? His attachment to recent scandal eliminates him.

This makes our new updates list as;

Chris Glover
Pamela Gough
Shelly Laskin
Gerri Gershon
Jerry Chadwick

The reality is none of these individuals has built the kind of resume that gives me confidence to believe they can take on the job at hand. But given that new elections should be coming I would have to say that Pamela Gough seems to have put together the best potential resume. Chair Gough? Perhaps not the most ideal, however, she is certainly the best option available at this point in time.